• Published 4th Feb 2015
  • 4,737 Views, 145 Comments

Keep Calm and Chaos On - Azure129

Discord calls out Celestia on the details of his initial reform. He has some interesting demands, which she gives into (but not without a few challenges of her own.) By the time Discord’s final reform comes, they're as close as two friends can be.

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Midquel 6: The One with the Poker Game

The time was right around dusk, which not only meant a change in shift for the pony sisters but a change in shift for the guards and staff of the Canterlot castle as well. And with a long day’s work behind them and a full free evening being ahead (and it being a Saturday night), naturally a fair amount of the guards were getting together in their barracks for their weekly poker game to relax from the stresses of their job, share a little castle gossip, and just have some fun together.

The castle troops all knew each other pretty well—few guards ever requested transfer away from Canterlot, and the princesses rarely took on new guards except of course during the yearly assignments given out to fresh troops from the military academy…which was why it was definitely going to seem a little strange to the guards tonight when a new pony soldier showed up to their poker game.

However, this particular new soldier had already decided that the risk was worthwhile. But just to be absolutely certain that he wouldn’t be too questionable as a new stallion recruit, he moved away from the soldiers descending to the nightly poker game in the barracks and examined his appearance in a mirror down another hallway.

The stallion grinned—grey coat, darker grey mane, respectable unicorn horn, a cutie mark like a tornado whirlwind, some gold horseshoes and a gold helmet, perfectly proportioned flanks and legs and eyes and…

The pony (who was Discord in disguise, of course) blinked at the sight of his eyes—they were still yellow with red uneven pupils. He raised his (apparently) prehensile pony tail and snapped with the end of it, shut his eyes, then opened them to reveal a set of perfectly normal looking dark grey eyes.

Stallion Discord smiled and mumbled to himself. “Excellent, excellent…they’ll never realize it’s really me. Hmm…bit of a shame I have to make do without wings though, but I’ll live with it for a couple of hours. After all, I’m already living with changing my naturally dashing good looks for that long.” His grin picked up on one side, and he gave his reflection a suave look. “Still, I should keep this look in mind—maybe use it to bug Celestia a bit one of these days. If she thinks she’s confused when I flirt with her as myself, imagine how confused she’d be if I flirted with her as a member of her own species.”

Discord chuckled to himself but then noticed out of the corner of his eye that the last of the guards had now disappeared from the main hallway and into the barracks. He quickly turned and followed after them. ‘This is going to be perfect,’ Discord thought to himself as he trotted along. ‘I get a nice guys night out and I get to secretly pump the staff for feedback on how wonderful I’ve been doing at mastering the magic of friendship. Luna’s too stubborn to give me praise, and Celestia doesn’t want to contribute to my ego so she’s very modest in her compliments to me, and I don’t get to see Fluttershy nearly often enough to hear her tell me all about my wonderful progress. So won’t it be great to hear how impressed these little guard ponies must be with me? Imagine winning them over after only a few months—oh Discord, was there ever any doubt you’d be just as brilliant at friendship as you are at everything else?’ He chuckled to himself as he finally descended some stairs and entered the barracks.

The room was large with a roaring fire giving a bright, cheery glow to the high ceiling and the big round wooden table with chairs at the center of everything. Discord suppressed his normally attention-grabbing personality and did his best to linger in the shadows until the other guards had all found seats and set themselves up with some cider bottles and snacks. Then he casually shifted himself into a free spot at the table and started to gage the room as some general chatter went on around him. ‘Celestia, Luna, and the girls are pretty sharp—they’d spot me in a second as an imposter here. But after a long work week of saluting and marching I’m sure these muscle heads won’t even notice that there’s a new pony hanging around—

“Hey, haven’t seen you around before—are you new?”

Discord blinked and looked to his side to see a pegasus stallion guard looking at him with an eyebrow raised. Discord then glanced around at several other guards who were also now looking at him. He took a deep breath and then smiled and spoke casually, lowering his voice to disguise it a little. “Oh, yes, yes…my name is…” He glanced around, glanced down at himself, caught sight of his tornado cutie mark, and then looked back up again with a smile. “My name is Dizzy. Private Dizzy. I’m a new transfer from the reserves near Horseshoe Bay in the south. Just arrived today.”

Most of the guards smiled and shrugged at this reply, but one (clearly of a higher rank—a Captain), raised an eyebrow at Discord. “I don’t remember getting any notice about a new transfer—are you supposed to be with the nightshift maybe?”

Discord just shrugged. “Oh, well, you know, the whole thing is a little confusing—first Celestia wanted me, then Luna wanted me, but then Celestia really, really, really wanted me.” He tried very hard not to chuckle. “And eventually they just decided to bring me here and sort it out later amongst themselves. Heh…things have gotten kind of crazy ever since Equestria went from a land of one immortal princess to a land of two, am I right?” He glanced around to the other guards with a grin.

The other guards couldn’t help glancing at him and at each other and then chuckling a little.

“Yeah, that’s a good point.”

“It has been a big change.”

“And now there’s Princess Twilight Sparkle on top of it all.”

The Captain finally relaxed a little and smiled. “Well, anyway, welcome, Private Dizzy. We’re always happy to have a new stallion around to help us guard the princesses.” The Captain started dealing the cards for the first game.

Discord smiled and nodded. “Thank you.” Some bottles of cider started to be passed around, and Discord used his magic to take one, then added, “And, uh…I hear that master of chaos fellow, Discord, is living here as well?” He glanced at the other guards as casually as possible.

And the other guards responded with general sighs and eye rolls, a few shakes of the head and a few chuckles as well.

“Yeah,” nodded the guard to Discord’s left, “He’s living here. So you’re definitely going to have to brace yourself for that.”

Discord tried not to pout, but couldn’t help his tone sounding a tiny bit defensive as he replied, “But I heard he was reformed now and that he was learning to be a very excellent friend—even the princesses have been impressed with him.” His proud smile returned.

“The princesses encourage him,” another guard replied, finishing a sip of his cider. “But Discord doesn’t make it easy for them, and he can make things difficult for us too with how inconsiderate he can be about the use of his powers and with how many liberties he takes with the princesses.”

“Yeah.” Another guard nodded. “We know if the princesses really wanted our help with him, they would ask, but still it makes a pony uncomfortable watching a former villain get so close to Celestia and Luna and use his magic so freely near them.”

Another guard sighed. “I guess he’s trying, but he really needs to stop being so selfish in how he goes about the whole thing. It makes it hard to tell if he really is taking this reform seriously.”

“Oh…I see.” Discord just looked down at his cider bottle, trying to avoid a deep scowl coming to his features. ‘Inconsiderate? Liberties? Selfish? Oh, even if I was entirely faking this reform, I’m far too good an actor to make such an obvious show about it! And who cares what they think anyway, they’re just a bunch of silly ponies. It’s not like their opinions matter to me. It’s not like I maybe hoped they might like me because it’d be nice to have a few stallion friends to go along with the princesses and the girls.’ “Well, I’m sure he’s trying…” ‘Dizzy’ finally mumbled, slumping down in his chair and taking a swig from his bottle.

A guard sighed and picked up his now complete poker hand to glance over it. “Yeah, I ‘m sure he is. But that’s what worries us—if this is the best he can do, it might not be enough to let the magic of friendship help completely reform him. And if he ever had to go back to stone…” He frowned a little and lowered his cards. “Well, it’s one thing for us guards to discipline him or to set boundaries, it would be another thing after everything that’s happened for us to have to be part of imprisoning him like that again.”

Discord raised an eyebrow at this remark and waited for the others to go on. Meanwhile, cards were discarded and chosen by all of the players, including Discord despite how distracted he was.

Another guard nodded. “Yeah, I mean…he’s obnoxious, but we’ve gotten to know him now, and it would feel pretty bad if we had to be part of sending him away again. And it would upset the princesses a lot, especially Celestia. And especially that Fluttershy pegasus.”

The other guards all nodded and made remarks of agreement.

Discord looked around at them all, his eyes wide with interest. “I, uh…I understand why Fluttershy would be upset—I’ve heard they’re best friends. But do you think Celestia would be very upset too?”

The Captain nodded. “Of course. She’s tried so hard to be friends with him, she knows him better than any of us. I think it would hurt her a lot to have to send him back to stone.”

The other guards all muttered replies of agreement.

Discord looked down at his poker hand. “Yes, well…I’m sure he doesn’t want to hurt her…or Fluttershy or anybody else. I’m sure he’s just getting used to being free again even if there have been some snags in his reform. Besides, I’d imagine his chaos is difficult for most ponies to understand. Even Celestia doesn’t seem to understand it entirely, and she’s known him for forever practically.”

The other guards all shrugged and nodded and murmured general replies of assent. Then their focus started to return to their poker hands. The Captain pushed some bits forward on the table. “I’ll start the betting at ten bits.” The other guards began to place bets as well. Discord did the same, though with his brow furrowed in an expression suggesting he was a little lost in thought.

“Discord’s not so bad though,” one of the guards then added with a small smile and a shrug “He definitely needs some improvement in the friendship department, and his powers are a little scary sometimes, but he’s also kind of funny in a weird way.”

“Yeah, and he did throw those two great parties so far,” another guard chimed in.

All of the guards nodded and smiled in agreement.

Discord perked up considerably. He looked from guard to guard at the table. “You really liked his parties then?”

“Yeah, sure!” The guard to his right shrugged. “Usually the only parties that ever get thrown around here are high society teas or the Grand Galloping Gala, and mostly we’re working those or they’re way too stuffy to be enjoyable at all. It was great getting to have a couple of real blowouts here.”

“I’ll say one thing—that guy really does know how to throw a party.” Another guard laughed, and the others joined in.

Naturally, Discord was beaming at this point.

“And that party he threw for the princesses to make up for everything that happened to them with the vines really was fun.” Another guard sighed and smiled. “I guess he does care, but maybe it’s just taking him a while to show it completely.”

“Oh.” Discord blinked. “So everyone knows that he threw that party to make things up to the princesses then?” He swallowed and glanced to the side uncomfortably.

The Captain nodded. “It ended up being pretty obvious. At first we thought he was just doing it to get in good with the princesses after the vines thing, but he put so much effort into it, and he did help Princess Twilight rescue them. I think Celestia and Luna enjoying the party and continuing their friendship with him must have meant a lot to him.”

The other guards nodded.

Discord glanced around quickly and then cleared his throat. “Well, er...just remember that Discord also just really likes a good party. I mean, he might be reformed but I’m sure he hasn’t gone soft enough to actually do something like throw a party for a totally selfless reason.” He tried not to blush, and just hoped his dusky coat might hide some of the color if he was. Just in case though, he hid himself behind his cider bottle to take another swig.

“Maybe not,” one of the guards offered with a smile. “But he might be getting there, at least with the princesses.” He glanced down at his hand and sighed. “I fold.” He glanced up as some of the other guards either likewise folded their hands or started to throw in bits for betting. “It would just be nice if Discord wouldn’t mess with the staff here so much though. He’s always spying or playing silly pranks or trying to practice his chaos on us in little ways. He’s clearly taking the time to try and be friends with the princesses, but with us or the citizens in town and even with the members of Twilight’s court outside of Fluttershy he can be kind of…dismissive.” He shrugged. “I guess he doesn’t mean to be, and it must be weird for him being eons old and all powerful like he is and trying to relate to normal, average ponies, which I guess explains why he gets along with Luna and Celestia best, but still…it’d be nice if he could tone down the ego a bit, you know?”

“Oh yeah…” several guards said at once, while the others nodded and murmured assent.

“Oh, but… “ Discord rolled his eyes to the side innocently, pushing in some extra bits for betting. “I thought his…strong sense of pride was one of his more colorful traits.”

The guard to Discord’s right sighed and shook his head. “Pride we could handle—Luna’s got loads of that. But even though she’s proud of her title and her powers and her position, she doesn’t lord it over anypony, or at least not anymore. She doesn’t try to act superior, and she doesn’t expect everyone to be impressed with her all of the time.”

Another guard nodded. “Yeah. Discord can’t stop showing off and can’t stop always finding ways to remind us that he could turn us all into cupcakes if he the mood struck him, and that the mood might very well strike him at any moment.”

Discord sighed and looked down at his cards. “Well, that’s a point to make I suppose.” He shifted a card. “But as you said, he is different and powerful, so maybe it really is just hard for him to relate to ponies on a normal level.”

“Well, it would probably be hard for normal ponies to relate to him too,” the Captain suggested with a smile as he took a sip from his cider bottle. “But no one knows until they try.”

The other guards smiled and nodded as they went about their various moves in the poker game and likewise consumed some of their own bottles of cider.

Discord, however, just nodded and remained still—once again his brow was furrowed deep in thought.

Some normal chatter between some of the guards started up as one game passed and then another one was started. And then finally Discord cleared his throat, knew it might be suspicious for him to come back to the topic of himself yet again but decided to try anyway, and said, “So…should we trust Discord then? I mean…how on guard should I be about him?”

The Captain sighed but smiled. He glanced at his other troops and then at his new recruit. “I think we’ve all decided that as long as the princesses trust him, we’ll trust him too for now. We have great faith in Luna and Celestia’s judgment.”

“But he hasn’t earned your trust yet on his own?” Discord asked.

The guards all looked at each other. One looked to Discord and spoke up. “I just don’t think enough time has passed for that.”

Discord nodded. “I see.” He focused on his cards for a moment and considered. “But…he does contribute something worthwhile to the castle, right? And he is at least a little likeable?”

The guard to his right shrugged and discarded a few cards. “He’s likeable, he’s just more likeable to himself than to anyone else right now. But he is kind of fun to have around. Things around here can get a little dull and predictable”

“I’ll say,” the guard to Discord’s left chimed in. “But with him around everyday is sort of an interesting challenge.” (Discord started to smile a little again…and then the guard went on). “And I guess we do sort of like it—and Celestia definitely likes it.”

The guards all broke into some warm chuckles complete with distinct grins.

Discord glanced at all of them with an eyebrow raised and his own grin picking up on one side.

The Captain got his laughter under control and glanced to ‘Dizzy.’ “Private, there’s a bit of a running joke around here that you’ll have to get used to. It’s a little awkward.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “You see, part of Discord’s friendship with the princesses is teasing them a little, and part of how he teases Celestia is that he…well, he…”

Discord grinned more and couldn’t help himself. “…He flirts with her?”

The other guards blinked.

“How did you know?” asked the Captain.

Discord shrugged. “Oh, just a guess. Celestia is rather admirable after all, and Discord—uh, from what I’ve skimmed in the history books—is quite charming. And living with two beautiful mares, he was bound to start teasing at least one of them in that way.”

The other guards all smiled and laughed a little again.

“Yes, well…” The Captain sipped his cider again. “You’ve got it. He makes romantic remarks to Princess Celestia frequently, teases her, and insists on spending quite a lot of time with her. But that’s only half the joke around the castle. The other half is that Celestia might actually have a little preference for him considering everything she lets him get away with.”

The other guards all had to stifle some chuckles.

Discord just looked around at all of them, an eyebrow raised and his grin still lingering but faltering a little. He laughed at first but then cleared his throat. “Wait you’re…you’re not serious…are you?”

The Captain sighed. “Now listen, Dizzy, I know you’re new to serving here, and believe me we’re all very respectful of Celestia and Luna. But well…like you said, they are a pair of very beautiful mares…that we technically live with. So sometimes we might make little ‘observations’ to each other about them, all in good fun of course.”

“Yeah,” another guard chimed in, grinning a little more. “I mean, we do have two of the prettiest bosses in Equestria. And we’re all guys here.”

Another guard nodded. “Honestly, we’re just kind of astounded and impressed that Discord’s had the courage to actually flirt with the princess. And we can’t believe how well she’s taken to it. And she did make the offer to let him live here. So maybe she does like when he talks to her like that.”

“Could you even imagine Celestia in love?” another guard asked, and the whole table smiled warmly at the idea.

Discord blushed so completely that for a moment his eyes flickered back to normal and he had to blink a couple of times to change them back to pony form. “I-In love?!” He scoffed and quickly grabbed his cider bottle to take a deep drink. He let out a breath and tried to grin normally again as he moved the bottle away from himself. “Whoa, whoa, that’s a little intense, don’t you think?” He rubbed the back of his neck.

Another guard shrugged. “Stranger things have happened. And Princess Cadance got married—why shouldn’t Celestia?”

“Married?!” Discord almost fell out of his chair. “O-Okay, now I know you guys are just kidding me, heh…” He was gripping his cards so hard with his magic that he was almost crushing them.

The Captain chuckled and smiled warmly. “Oh, we’re sure she wouldn’t rush into anything, of course. It’s just interesting to see her expressing any sort of interest in a guy as a mare and wondering where things might go from here.”

Discord let out a breath and smiled more. “Oh, so the whole thing’s the joke then?”

Another guard shook his head, “Not entirely. Celestia does enjoy spending an awful lot of time with him, after all. I mean, how many nights a week are they together in the kitchen?”

“Celestia definitely has an awareness of Discord as a guy, or she wouldn’t blush nearly as much as she does around him,” another guard chimed in with a chuckle. “And speaking of that, how cute is it when she blushes? I never thought we’d see that from her ever. She’s always so poised normally.”

The other guards chuckled and smiled and nodded.

Discord just looked around at all of them in bewilderment, barely able to hold back a scoff let alone fake some laughter to join them. “Oh come on…. Do you guys think she really likes him like that? I mean, has she actually said something…?”

“No.” The Captain shrugged and exchanged some cards. “But she lets him get away with a lot more flirting than any other dignitary or important guest.”

Another guard nodded. “Yeah, and I’m dating one of the maids, and according to her all the maids seem to think that Celestia at least thinks he’s cute.”

“Cute?” Discord blinked and almost frowned a little, then just raised an eyebrow.

The guards all nodded and gave replies of assent.

One of them chuckled. “Yeah, it’s funny. I think ponies always wondered about what type of pony Celestia would go for considering she’s an alicorn: earth pony or unicorn or pegasus. But maybe it turns out she’s not into ponies at all.”

“Well, I don’t know about that…” Discord murmured, rolling his eyes to the side.

“Though Discord is close to an alicorn if you think about it,” another guard chimed in. “he can fly, he can do magic, and he’s the only guy around actually taller than her.”

“Well, I guess that’s a point…” added Discord in another mumble.

“It’s almost sort of cute watching her enjoy the attention he’s giving her,” another guard added, and several of the guards chuckled warmly at this remark.

“Yeah, okay, I’ll admit, Celestia flustered is…nice to see.” ‘Dizzy’ managed quietly. “Still though…”

“Yeah…. I wonder if that means she’ll be more open to courting once he’s fully reformed and leaves here.”

“Maybe she and Luna’ll start bringing princes and dukes and earls through here all the time looking for suitors.”

“Celestia’s gotten so used to spending nights with Discord in the kitchen, I’m sure she’ll at least want a fill for that in a.s.a.p.”

Discord frowned a little and suddenly spoke up more. “Hey now, there’s no need to rush her about that or to rush Discord about moving out.” He shrugged. “I mean, maybe those cake nights with him are just something special between friends and maybe Discord couldn’t be replaced that easily. Besides, I suppose it’s Celestia’s business what she does at nighttime and who she does it with.”

The Captain shrugged, finishing another swig of his cider. “Well, you’re right about that, private. Technically she is off duty after sunset now.”

“I guess I never thought much about what Celestia must do in her private time.” One of the guards put a hoof to his chin. “It’s kind of hard not to just think of her as our boss doing her princess duties.”

Another guard nodded and finished a swig of cider. “But at least she has Luna now to talk to about private stuff, and Twilight Sparkle too now that she’s a princess.”

Discord raised an eyebrow, looking back and forth between the guards. “Yes, but…Celestia and Luna keep completely opposite schedules—they can only have so much time together. And Twilight doesn’t even live here anymore, and most of her time communicating with Celestia has been homework.”

Several of the guards considered this reply and then one responded with a smile, “Well, I’m sure she’s gotta have friends in the Canterlot gentry and diplomats from other places who she must confide in and talk casually with all of the time as close friends.”

Discord only raised his eyebrow even higher (and frowned completely now). He knew just from observing her over these weeks that Celestia kept her meetings with diplomats strictly about business and not about herself. And if she and Luna really could spend so little time together, and if Twilight really was so busy in Ponyville with friendship, and if Cadance was busy with Shining Armor and the Crystal Empire, and if none of the staff felt up to chatting with her… “So…no one around here ever just pulls her aside for a cup of cider and to ask about her day?” he had to ask. “Because that sounds sort of…lonely.” And something inside of Discord silently added, ‘Like being a statue all alone in a garden.’

The Captain’s smile faltered for a moment at that observation but then managed a smile again. “Well, we try our best to look out for her and keep her company, but I’d feel a little funny prying into her private affairs like that. The princesses seem to value their privacy. I mean, if we were really good, close friends it would be one thing, but most of us just work here and know the princess casually from the job.”

Everyone nodded and gave brief comments of assent.

Discord shifted in a little in his chair and looked down a little. “Well…maybe that’s why she likes spending time with Discord. Maybe she just wants someone to talk to.” Every guard at the table looked around at each other in interest, sympathy, and just a touch of confusion. Discord looked up and saw their responses. He quickly cleared his throat and added with a grin and a small scoff, moving things along before he could trip himself up and say anything else too suspicious. “And, uh…all of you really think she thinks he’s cute?”

The Captain’s smile grew and he shrugged. “Probably. Mares can be a little confusing though, am I right?” He grinned at the other guards, who all grinned in return and nodded.

Discord managed to smile again and rolled his eyes with a small chuckle.

One of the guards then smirked and glanced at his fellow guard at his side. “I still don’t believe that story you told about the French maid’s outfit, by the way.”

The guard (who was indeed the one Discord had seen in the hall after his little tea party adventure with Fluttershy and the princesses a couple of weeks ago) blinked and then laughed and held up his hoof. “Hey, I swear it’s true. I thought I was dreaming for a second, or that one of you unicorns had transfigured to look like her and you were playing a prank, or that it was Discord in disguise, but it was really her. Ask her—she’s Celestia, she wouldn’t deny it’s the truth.”

The other guard rolled his eyes. “Yeah, like I’m going to ask Celestia something like that. Meanwhile though, you want to complain about the unpredictability of living with Discord and how we could use some hazard pay or something, but as far as I’m concerned, random Celestia moments like that are all the extra compensation we need.”

The other guards shared a warm laugh (and even Discord couldn’t help grinning and laughing a little).

Another guard nodded. “It is kind of interesting seeing Celestia loosen up and have fun so much with Discord around. Did you see how she danced with him at that first house party?”

“Yeah, on two hooves.” Another guard sighed and grinned. “I wish I was two feet taller and could try that with her. What a woman.”

While the other guards couldn’t help but take on dreamy grins, Discord hid behind his poker hand a little and smirked in satisfaction.

A guard laughed and turned to the guard who had just spoken. “You could probably try it with Luna. She’s a bit shorter.”

“True….” The guard laughed and then considered. “Do you think Celestia let’s Discord that close all of the time?” He glanced around the table.

Discord couldn’t help himself. He cleared his throat, smiled, and spoke casually. “Oh yes, I would imagine so. He really is a special friend to her, I think…at least from what I’ve heard all of you say.”

The other guards considered and then nodded.

“She did let him stay in her room that first night he came to live here,” one of the guards announced, looking around the room with a meaningful gaze.

The rest of the guards looked at him and then at each other just as meaningfully, and there was a silent pause. (Discord just watched the proceeding with great interest).

Finally the Captain sighed. “Okay, look guys, come on, we all know nothing happened.” He blushed a little, looked down, and raised his cider bottle for another drink. “The princess is way too classy for that, and anyway Luna would have destroyed Discord.”

The guards smiled and nodded, but one couldn’t help sighing and adding, “Still, I’d love to know what that’s like…a night even just near the princess.”

Discord couldn’t help smiling a little himself. “I’m sure it’s a very special thing. And that Discord is one of the few who will ever know what it’s like.”

The guard to his right smirked a little. “I wonder if she’s, you know…ever flirty at all.

The guard to Discord’s left grinned and shook his head. “Come on, you know how modest Celestia is. Luna I could see being flirty, but I’ll bet Celestia is perfectly professional when she’s alone with a guy who’s a friend, just like when she’s hosting dignitaries or something.”

Discord couldn’t help glancing at the two of them uncomfortably, and then he cleared his throat and added, “Well, I bet she’s just very friendly and very kind. And trusting…. Like she would do anything to make you feel welcome and even tuck you in if you got cold or something.” He smiled a little to himself (and the guards couldn’t help noticing). Discord blinked and looked up, and suddenly noticed all of the guards noticing him very much. “Just, um…just speculating.” He cleared his throat and quickly went back to ‘focusing’ on his poker hand.

The guards went back to looking at each other, and now they started throwing in bits for bets. Another one of them spoke up. “Do you guys think Discord really wants a shot with her or that he’s just playing around?”

One guard put a hoof to his chin. “Honestly, I’m not sure. But most people want a shot with the princess, or they would take one if it came to them.”

Another guard shook his head. “No, I think he’s just messing around and bothering her for the fun of it. Remember, we’re not even sure if he’s fully reformed yet. What do you think, Dizzy?” The guard looked to ‘Dizzy.’

Discord’s eyes went wide and he couldn’t help a slight blush coming to his features at being so suddenly addressed, and about this topic no less. “Oh, I…I, um…” He tried to think and then just let something tumble out of his mouth. “I don’t know. She’s a nice mare, but he might not be nice enough for her or even want to be. But he might sort of think she’s cute too…in a way. “ He swallowed and smiled and shrugged and found a way to fix the very embarrassing turn this moment had taken. “Or maybe it’s all just a big joke.” His grin picked up on one side. “Maybe he’ll pull a big one eighty on us and go for Luna.”

The other guards all smiled and burst into laughter.

“Good one!” the Captain announced (and inside Discord breathed a sigh of relief at having diffused such an awkward situation).

“Luna would turn him into a crater,” another guard remarked.

“She’s passionate enough to turn anyone into a crater,” another guard added, and then he grinned. “Still, you might have a fun week or so before then—it might be worth it.

The guards all laughed again.

Then the Captain let out a sigh and shook his head with a smile. “Okay, come on, guys, Luna’s nice in her own way, and we really shouldn’t talk about the princesses like this so much. Let’s get back to the game.”

“Can we at least talk about the maids?” one of the guards piped up cheekily.

The Captain shrugged, still smiling. “Fair enough.”

“Ooo do any of them think Discord’s cute?” Discord couldn’t help himself.

The guard to his left shrugged. “They think he’s funny. But if he snaps and makes the furniture in a room appear on the ceiling and the chandelier end up sticking up out of the floor one more time just for kicks, I think the maids going to bind and gag him with dust cloths and toss him in a broom closet.”

Discord chuckled. “Yes, I suppose he should stop picking on them—save all of his strength for flirt-er, bothering Celestia.”

The whole table burst into laughter again.

The Captain smiled. “All right, guys, let’s really get this game going. And someone open up another crate of cider!” The table cheered in approval.

And then finally the poker night was truly able to go off full swing with only occasional bits of talk about Discord or the princesses going on here or there. Discord only stayed for a few more hands though—he did have a cake date with Celestia tonight to keep after all. And besides, he had already heard quite a lot more than he had bargained for from this little escapade of his. He had a lot to think about.

Late that night…

Something very unexpected was going on during Discord and Celestia’s little midnight snack at the moment. The two were present in the kitchen (as usual), the two were eating cake (as usual), but rather than colorful jokes from Discord and laughter and calm advice from Celestia, there was just silence between the two friends as they ate. And the silence persisted because Discord wasn’t saying anything.

At first, Celestia had hardly noticed him being a little quieter than usual when he had joined her this evening. But as their time together had progressed, his silence couldn’t help but become more and more obvious. And as they had moved on to second slices of cake, she finally observed how lost in thought he seemed—his brow was slightly furrowed and his eyes looked far away like his head was calculating something.

Finally the sun princess took a breath and addressed the situation directly.

“Discord,” she dabbed at her mouth with a napkin and lowered it, “Is something the matter?”

“Hmm?” the master of chaos barely replied back, still looking down at his barley touched cake slice.

Celestia raised an eyebrow. “Discord?”

This time he didn’t reply at all except for a sigh, and that fixated look was still on his face.

Celestia smiled a little. “I just wanted to say I think I’m sick of cake—in fact, I’m swearing off of it entirely.”

“That’s nice…” Discord mumbled back. “You must be very proud.”

“And I’m thinking of banishing Twilight and the girls just for fun.” Celestia raised her eyebrow a little higher.

Discord shrugged. “If you think that’s best.”

Celestia frowned a little. Her tone (and look) went a bit dry. “And I’ve decided to take your suggestion and to start wearing a French maid’s outfit around here all of the time from now on.”

“Hmm?” Discord continued to play with his cake.

Celestia rolled her eyes and now lightly nudged him with her hoof. “Discord!”

“Ow!” Discord winced, then he blinked a few tines and glanced at her. “Sheesh, Celestia, don’t you realize how much it hurts when you do that when you’re wearing golden horseshoes?”

Celestia just smiled a little. “Discord, what’s bothering you? You’ve barely said a word since you came to the kitchen, and you weren’t listening to me at all just now.”

Discord scoffed and rolled his eyes to the side innocently. “I was listening!”

“Then what did I say?” Celestia raised an eyebrow.

Discord considered for a moment, then shrugged. “Something about friendship? Heh…”

Celestia sighed. “Discord, tell me what’s on your mind. If something’s bothering you, I want to help.” She smiled again.

Discord hesitated. And then he looked back at his cake with an awkward pout. “It’s nothing, really. Don’t worry about it.”

Celestia took a deep breath and nodded. “Very well, Discord. But if you do ever need to talk, I’m always here for you.” And with a small smile she went back to her cake.

The pair ate in silence once more.

Then Discord sighed. “Say…Tia? If I went back to…if I moved out…would you start spending nights in the kitchen like this with someone else?”

Celestia put down her fork and turned to Discord, her eyes a little wide. “If you…moved out?”

Discord didn’t look away from his cake. He just shrugged and nodded. “Yes, if I ‘moved out’.”

They both knew they were talking about either actually moving out or ‘moving out’ in the sense of him returning to some form of imprisonment. They both also knew that they didn’t need to address that fact directly.

Celestia considered Discord’s question. “Well, I might have Luna join me for cake some nights when she can. But then again we’ve always had the occasional nightly snack between shifts.”

Discord shook his head and glanced at her. “No, I mean, like…who would you have your cake dates with if I wasn’t around?”

Celestia blinked and raised an eyebrow. “…Well…just myself, I suppose. It wouldn’t be the same with anyone else.” She swallowed and looked at him a little more meaningfully. “Discord, are you thinking of leaving?”

Discord shook his head. “No, no, of course not. Just curious.”

Celestia’s smile returned. “Our friendship is very special to me, Discord. No one could ever replace what we have together. Without you, even if I had someone to come back here and have cake with…well, it just wouldn’t be a cake date. Those only really happen with you. I promise. And I enjoy them very much and hope we’ll have many more to come.”

“Oh.” Something like a smile started to return to Discord’s features. “So, it’s kind of like how I could have tea with you sometimes and Luna, but that doesn’t really replace my special tea parties with Fluttershy?”

Celestia smiled more and nodded. “Exactly.”

“And you like having these nightly meetings with me?” he added.

“Yes.” Celestia nodded. “Of course I do, Discord.”

Discord’s smile returned completely and he even started eating some cake. Celestia smiled at the sight and returned to her cake as well.

“Celestia?” Discord raised an eyebrow and glanced at her as he swallowed his cake.

“Yes?” Celestia glanced back at him.

“If what I did end up doing was moving out, how would you feel about us still having cake like this sometimes? Just as a diplomatic thing of course.” Discord rolled his eyes to the side nonchalantly. “A moment of parlay between the master of chaos and the princess of the sun.”

Celestia blinked and smiled at him with interest as she finished a bite of cake and nodded. “I’d like that very much actually, Discord. Even if we didn’t live together, I’d want our friendship to be as strong as ever.”

Discord’s grin picked up on one side into a smirk. “Yes, well…who can deny how enjoyable my presence is?”

Celestia chuckled softly. “And perhaps, wherever you choose to live, sometimes I could come see you too?”

Discord’s eyes went wide and he raised an eyebrow. “You could come and see me where I…. Well…” he grinned, “Well, yes, why not? I think I’d like that too, for you to visit, no matter where I am.” His eyes went down to the cake on his plate, and he played with some crumbs. “You know, again, just for the sake of diplomacy and for keeping you from getting too bored without an official late night snack buddy.”

Celestia smiled at first at his joke but then frowned a little. She wanted to tell him that she would try to find another prison for him besides stone if it came to that. And she wanted to tell him that even if the prison was stone again, she would visit this time and often. But it was still a subject better left undiscussed, and she knew it.

Celestia looked down at her own plate, considered, and then smiled a little and found a good subject change. “So, did you have fun spying on the guards today, Discord?”

Discord shrugged. “Oh, it was interesting. I—…” His eyes went wide and he lowered his fork and looked at her, his curious gaze searching her warm one for a moment before he finally just asked, “How did you know?”

Celestia smiled in that all knowing way of hers and shrugged. “On my way here, I heard some of the guards mentioning a new recruit from the south at their poker game and how he was funny and how they couldn’t find him now but he was a grey pony with very unruly hair who liked to talk an awful lot about Discord. And I think the name ‘Dizzy’ was brought up as well.” A small smirk couldn’t help coming to her features. “A few of them were starting to worry that he was part of a Changeling invasion, but I assured them that ‘Private Dizzy’ had just been temporarily transferred.” She put a hoof to her mouth, clearly trying to hold back a laugh.

Discord just shrugged and rolled his eyes to the side, playing with his cake again. “I appreciate you covering for me. And I just felt like seeing what they really thought about me. And eavesdropping of a kind always seems to be the best way to get that information.” He chuckled.

Celestia smiled and shook her head. “And did you hear anything good?”

Discord glanced at her, his eyes narrowing. “They talked about you a lot.” He smirked. “Told you, Tia.

Instantly, the sun princess blushed lightly and then glanced down to her cake.

Discord leaned in close to her. “Want to hear what they said?”

“No, I’d rather not, Discord.” Celestia straightened up and kept her focus on taking the occasional bite of her cake.

Discord chuckled and grinned more at her, unable to help himself. “Oh fine.” He pulled back and stretched a little. “Actually I didn’t just go to hear about myself, you know, though I liked getting a fresh perspective on how I’m doing at this ‘friendship’ thing. I also sort of wanted a ‘guys night’ out, and I figured being disguised as a pony was the only way I was going to get one. Not that I don’t just adore you and Luna and the girls, Celestia, but sometimes a fella wants to kick back with a card game, some corn nuts, and a few good off-color mare jokes. I had fun.” He reclined back in his chair a little.

Celestia rolled her eyes and smiled a little more. “Well, I’m happy you enjoyed yourself then, Discord. And I understand—sometimes Luna and I like a good mares night ourselves.” She ate another bite of cake.

Discord’s grin picked up on one side. “Ooo so you can giggle and gossip about charming old me?”

Celestia lightly nudged him, her smile picking up a little on one side as well. “No more than we do when you’re around Discord.”

Discord chuckled and finished off another bite of cake. “But really, Celestia, are you sure you don’t want to hear what they said about you? This could be your one and only chance to know exactly what your guards think about their eternally youthful mare princess…”

Celestia just sighed deeply, maintaining her poised smile. “Why don’t you tell me what they said about you instead?”

“Oh,” Discord shrugged, “that I’m a little odd, a little unpredictable, perhaps even a teensy bit selfish at times…but that I bring something amusing to the castle. I almost think they like me some of the time.” He smiled proudly.

“Maybe you should try socializing with them as yourself—some of them might actually want to be friends with you.” Celestia smiled more.

A chuckle escaped Discord, and he shook his head. “One step at a time, Tia. One step at a time.” He took another bite of cake and glanced at her again. “You and Luna are good enough castle friends for me now.”

Celestia smiled warmly. Then she took a breath, and her tone grew a little more somber again. “Discord? Promise me that if…or when…you do decide to move out, you’ll let me know well in advance?”

“Want to throw a celebration party?” Discord grinned at her and raised an eyebrow.

Celestia smiled. “Well…maybe a going away party. But mostly I’d want a chance to get used to the idea of you leaving.” She looked up to his eyes. “…You really would visit still for nights like this with me?”

Discord blinked, his eyes went a little wide and his grin faltered. And he suddenly found himself very aware of the fact that they were alone and Celestia was sitting right beside him looking up into his eyes, asking for his presence…seeming so happy that they would have nights together.

Discord blinked a couple of times and swallowed. He cleared his throat and resumed his grin and his usual snarky, charming tone (as best he could). “Well of course I would still visit for cake, Celestia. You’re my friend, after all, and I suppose a few mutual meals together wouldn’t hurt.” He sighed and added with a shrug, “And I suppose I’ll tell you long before I decide to leave…if it means that much to you, I mean.”

Discord glanced to Celestia out of the corner of his eye to see her smiling warmly. The sun princess nodded. “Thank you, Discord.”

Discord grinned and looked to her more again. “You know, we’ve really got to get you a boyfriend, Tia—you should not be this hard up for nightly companions.” He chuckled. “Ow!”

Celestia had just given him a light hit in the shoulder again with her hoof. She rolled her eyes and had to try not to laugh (or to blush too much). “Discord,” she shook her head to herself, “I know you like to tease me, but why do you have this strange obsession with my love life?” Her eyes happened to meet his again.

Discord merely grinned cheekily back at her. “Just trying to be a good friend. Good friends make sure their friends are well taken care of in every way, right?”

Celestia couldn’t help a light blush persisting. “I appreciate your concern, Discord. But I can take care of myself.” She sighed and shook her head, trying not to smile too much as she went back to taking another bite of cake. “Though if I choose to let anyone else care for me in a special way, I’ll let you know.” She glanced at him, and her grin picked up on one side. “Meanwhile, you’d think you’d have more concern with getting yourself a girlfriend.”

Discord blinked and then instantly waved her off with a scoff and a smile. “Me, a girlfriend? Oh, I’ve already got you and Luna and Fluttershy and the girls to wrangle—that’s more than enough women in my life for now, thank you very much.” He chuckled.

Celestia laughed in return. “Fair enough, Discord.”

The pair were finished with their current cake slices, and so Discord and Celestia each used some magic to get themselves fresh pieces.

But before their cake date could finally turn into one of their usual friendly if sarcastic banter sessions for the night, Discord glanced at Celestia out of the corner of his eye and made an unexpected (and unprecedented) offer. “So…tell me about your day, Tia.”

Celestia blinked and paused in magically raising a forkful of cake to her mouth. “My day?” During these private times together Celestia had often asked about Discord’s day (and gotten many colorful responses), Discord had sometimes brought up points of friendship that he had questions about, or (most commonly) witty jokes and a few well-intentioned mild pranks had been shared between the two of them. But now Discord had asked her about her day—like a friend would. Still though Celestia had to smile and shake her head. “Oh Discord, I’m not sure if you want to hear about that. My days are very orderly.”

Discord rested his head on his hand and looked at her fully with a little smirk. “Then it will be a challenge of friendship for me to listen—try me, Celestia.”

Celestia smiled back at him, an eyebrow raised. She considered, and then she resumed magically eating her cake as she began her reply. “Well, Discord, my day started out with four meetings in a row, each scheduled exactly an hour apart, and I was on time to each one.”

“Oh, I’m wounded,” Discord replied sarcastically with a roll of his eyes and a chuckle. “Do go on, Celestia, I can handle your silly schedule. And then we can talk about something fun like my chaos.” He laughed more. “Come on, share, complain, crack jokes—I’m up for anything you can dish out.

Celestia’s smile grew, and she nodded. “Okay, Discord. Well…the first meeting was about organizing the fiscal budget for the next year.”

Discord’s grin picked up on one side. “Yikes, no wonder you need cake each day to function.”

Celestia couldn’t help laughing softly. “So you understand my pain now.” She ate more cake and dabbed at her mouth with a napkin. “But it’s not all so terribly orderly, Discord. Once all of my meetings were over, I had to hold court. You’d like that part of my schedule. For orderly ponies, you’d be surprised at the messes the citizens of Equestria get into.”

Discord chuckled. “Well, if their colorful misadventures and misunderstandings are ever lacking, just let me know, and I’ll be happy to spread a little extra mischievous chaos to keep things interesting for you.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Celestia smiled to herself. “So would you really like to hear about the rest of my day, Discord?”

Discord smiled more. “I don’t think I’d mind terribly, no.” He finished a bite of his own cake, then raised an eyebrow, a thought occurring to him. “But first, as long as we’re really catching up, what did you say to me before when I wasn’t listening? You know, just before you hit me with that rock solid golden horseshoe.”

Celestia shrugged and looked down a little. “Oh…honestly, just some silly things to see if you were as distracted as you seemed.”

“Like?” Discord prompted, his grin growing. “Come on, Celestia I love silly things. And I like when grim you tries to have a sense of humor. Besides, this’ll tide me over to get through your talk of orderly meetings.”

Celestia rolled her eyes to the side but nodded. “First I told you I was sick of cake and swearing off of it for good.”

“Oh please,” Discord scoffed. “You survive without cake? You’re practically he Element of Sugar, Celestia.” He chuckled.

Celestia laughed softly. “Then I said something about banishing Twilight and the girls just for fun.”

“Hey, Fluttershy stays though—that’s a nonnegotiable point.” Discord smirked, then rolled his eyes to the side and added, “She’s the only one who knows just how I like my tea, after all.”

Celestia laughed again. Then she looked down very deliberately and ate a bite of cake. “And then I finally told you I was going to take your advice and start wearing the French maid’s outfit around here full time.”

She was expecting full, raucous laughter from Discord at this idea…not a low, mischievous chuckle. Celestia glanced over at him.

He was just grinning back at her so smugly. “Yes, well…” he lowered his voice, “You are cute in the maid’s outfit, Celestia. The guards and I all agreed on that at least.” He shrugged. “Sorry, had to share with you at least one thing they said about you at the poker game.” He winked. “Oh, and don’t you and Luna worry—they seem completely unaware of the fact that you two like to check them out in secret sometimes. I don’t think they consider themselves worthy of you mare-ish attention, princess.” He pulled back and chuckled.

Celestia just sat there looking down at her cake with wide eyes and blushing slightly for several moments.

Discord tisked. “So flustered, Celestia—who knew men would be your great weakness? You almost act like you have a crush on one of these dashing bachelors parading around your castle.” He watched her with interest.

Celestia blinked a few times and then shook her head to come out of her surprise. “All I have is a very strong sense of modesty, Discord, and professionalism too. I promise you if I ever found a special somepony, it wouldn’t be any of my guards.” She took a breath and smiled a little. “And men aren’t my weakness, Discord. I don’t find my time with any of them or my feelings about any of them to change who I am in any way.” Her smile picked up on one side as her gaze returned to Discord. “You spend an awful lot of time though focusing in on me, Discord…and you have shown a softer side of yourself with Fluttershy and the girls. Maybe your weakness is women?”

Discord blinked and scoffed again. “Me? Weak over women?” He waved her off and resumed taking up another bite of cake. “I think that daytime sun has finally penetrated that ethereal mane of yours and fried your brain, Celestia. Chaos has no weaknesses, and especially not a pretty face.” He noticed her eyeing him in response and trying not to laugh, and so he cleared his throat. “Er, look, we’re going off topic—now while you’ve still got me willing to be friendly, finish telling me about your day, Celestia.” He looked back to his cake. “And for the record, I’m glad to hear you’re not secretly pining after anyone around here. It might make things awkward. And besides, you’re probably too good for anyone around here anyway.” He played with a few crumbs with his fork, still looking down.

Celestia just laughed softly. “I’m not too good for anyone, Discord. But you see my point then—it would be too awkward showing any favor to any of the ponies who work closely with me.” She smiled a little more. “That’s part of why I enjoy my time with you, Discord, and our friendship. I spend so much time around the castle seeing to daily affairs that I’ve never really had the chance to make a close gentleman friend before you.”

Discord’s confident smirk faltered just a little. “Oh.” He glanced at her, but then suppressed any apparent distress and cleared his throat. “Yes, well…to being friends then, Celestia.” He snapped and made one glass of chocolate milk appear in his paw and another glass appear in her hoof.

Celestia blinked and smiled. “Oh. Yes, Discord.” She looked to him. “To being friends.”

The two clinked glasses, then sipped their chocolate milk and placed the drinks down (and inside along with quite a bit of awkwardness Discord felt relieved at having heard Celestia declare that they were indeed just friends at the moment.)

Discord smiled normally again and ate another bite of cake before turning to Celestia once more. “Anyway, on with the story of your orderly day, Tia.”

Celestia nodded, took another bite of cake herself, and then went on. “Very well, Discord. Well, after the fiscal budget meeting, I had a meeting to discuss the upcoming annual census where we go around and record everyone’s names and where they live for government reference.” Her tone went dry but her smile remained. “That was about as much fun as it sounds.”

Discord chuckled as he took another sip of chocolate milk. “Yes, I’m sure it was.”

Celestia smiled more. “Then after my meetings and holding court, I had to visit the Canterlot City Hall.” She sipped her chocolate milk. “I swear, I can’t tell if that bureaucracy is the most orderly thing ever or the most chaotic thing ever, all I know is I was there three hours and I’m still not entirely sure what I accomplished other than signing my name almost as many times as I have in the last thousand years.”

Discord couldn’t help laughing warmly, and Celestia couldn’t help joining in with him.

The rest of the evening went very much as usual for the two former mortal enemies sharing cake and time together.

Author's Note:

And another midquel done! Thank you all for your patience--I can't even describe how hectic my life has been lately. Remember when Apple Bloom got the cutie pox and she was doing like sixteen things at once and waiting for it to stop--yeah, that's pretty much where I'm at lol. But it'll get better soon fortunately, and I'm hoping everything I'm doing now will pay off soon :twilightsmile:

Anyway, I hope you guys liked this one. One of the reasons it took me a while to post it was that this was an idea I only got recently, so I had to write the whole thing from scratch. I've got the other midquels fully drafted though, so that should help with updates in the future :twilightsmile: Next time: "The One that References Twilight (no, not the Pony)". Discord crashes Celestia's and Luna's 'mares night', makes Celestia feel horribly awkward, and then makes himself feel agonizingly awkward when he goes just a little too far with things. Meanwhile, Luna's just sitting there eating fudge and wondering how much longer all of this flirting can possibly go on before something actually happens. I really hope all of you enjoy it.

A thank you to howard035 for his comment on the last chapter that the guards should realize that random Celestia shenanigans like her in the maid's outfit is the raise for dealing with Discord, lol.

Okay, now on to updating The Most Chaotic Night Ever!!! :raritystarry: (And to posting my new story sometime in the next day or two--Interesting Nights :raritywink: )